Can I Keep Nursing Puppies Outside?
In short -- no. There was a time when families let their dogs give birth and nurse outdoors, under the lean-to or in a doghouse. However, if you care about the health and survival of every one of those little furballs, you should NOT leave your dog's puppies outside, nor should you let mom give birth outside. The great outdoors is fraught with perils for puppies, from temperature variations to predator animals. Another reason to keep puppies inside is because they need social interactions with humans to mold their behaviors.
Puppies do not have the ability to thermoregulate in their infancy, which means outside temperatures can affect them drastically. Elevated temperatures can lead to heat stroke, while decreased temperatures can lead to hypothermia. Hawks, raccoons and even rats can prey on small puppies, injuring or killing them. While your dog will do her best to keep them safe, puppies scattered around a yard may make that impossible. Thieves prey on litters of certain breeds, waiting for a moment when they're unsupervised.
Socialization with humans is important for puppies. When puppies spend time around people, the puppies get used to being touched and played with. Poor socialization among humans at an early age, like taking puppies away from mom too soon, be related to behaviors like timidity and anxiety. In addition to not having puppy play time, you miss out on changes in your puppies -- including appetite, energy and behavior fluctuations, changes that can indicate health problems in your puppies -- if they are outside.
About the Author
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.